Illustrated by Vicky Lowe
Dutton Children’s/Penguin
Ages: 8 to 12
May 2004

ISBN numbers:
0525471839 (hardcover)
0142407674 (Puffin, paperback)

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Mary Margaret is an almost nine-year-old who is convinced that her life would be perfect if only she could have a pet. With a dad who is highly allergic, an older mom who is unexpectedly expecting, and a teenage brother who is going through a painful separation from a life-long pal, it seems unlikely that she’ll ever get what she thinks she needs. As she struggles to understand what the changes her mom and JT are going through mean to her own life, Mary Margaret realizes a few things about friendship, family, and putting herself in other people’s shoes.

Download Lesson Plan
(PDF)    Mary Margaret’s site

The Idea

My kids want a “real” pet (anything that’s soft and furry) more than anything. Unfortunately, we can’t get one because furry pets have pet dandruff, and their father is allergic to it.

That’s how this book began. It was a very short book at first—a picture book, in fact—but my editor said to me, “Tell me more.” So I told her more.

Then she said, “Hmmm. Can you make a lot more stuff happen?” So I wrote some more and made all kinds of stuff happen! I thought I was absolutely, positively done writing that book.

My editor didn’t. (Editors are like teachers.) She wanted me to go back and make the whole thing better. I did because, well, she’s the editor. (Editors are also like bosses.)

That’s when my editor finally gave me a big smile and said, “See? I knew you could do it all along.” (Sometimes, editors are even like mothers.)


Kirkus Reviews: “. . . funny, smart, and right on target. Irresistible.”

School Library Journal: “. . . sparkles with humor.”

Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books: “. . . a sure hit.”

Midwest Book Review: “. . . hilarious reading.”